Bacon, ground beef, cheese, and hot sauce make this Cowboy Pasta Salad a definite crowd pleaser! Perfect for an easy dinner, side dish, summer get togethers, game day, or any time!
Ever heard of Cowboy Spaghetti? It’s a twist on classic spaghetti and meatballs, but with crumbled ground beef, bacon, hot sauce, and cheddar cheese. And apparently named as such because cowboys like that stuff, right? Who knows. All I do know is my family loves it.
I thought it would be fun to adapt it into this Cowboy Pasta Salad and it turned out amazing! I served it at a potluck I hosted – everyone flocked to it and wanted the recipe, so here it is! Horses, lassos, and spurs not included.
Cowboy Pasta Salad Ingredients
Here’s what goes in this pasta salad:
(*Scroll below for the complete printable recipe)
- Meat: a combination of cooked lean ground beef and crispy hickory smoked bacon.
- Pasta: I used mini pasta shells, but wagon wheels would be so perfect, too!
- Other goodies: canned sweet kernel corn, fresh cherry tomatoes, and peppery scallions.
- Cheese: shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
- For the sauce: Mayonnaise, Barbecue sauce, Spicy Brown Mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Hot chili sauce.
- Seasonings: cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Is it spicy? I always find this hard to answer since everyone’s tolerance for spicy food is so vastly different. I don’t consider this dish spicy. It has a little kick, but it’s perfectly balanced by all the other flavors.
- How do I serve it? This pasta salad is quite hearty, so you can easily serve it for dinner as a full meal, but it’s also great as a side dish. And certainly perfect for a potluck!
- Do you eat it warm or cold? My favorite way to eat this is the same day it’s made right after mixing at room temperature. The more it sits, the tomatoes will continue to break down. But leftovers the next day (after chilling in the refrigerator) are also good!
- Additions: Feel free to swap out the ground beef for good Italian sausage. You can also add in some chickpeas and/or black beans – yummy!
Cowboy Pasta Salad Video
Other Pasta Salad Recipes
Cowboy Pasta Salad
- 1 pound dried mini pasta shells
- 1 pound hickory smoked bacon , diced
- 3/4 pound lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons Spicy Brown Mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 1/2 teaspoons hot chili sauce
- 15 ounce can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 5 scallions, diced
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil; cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
- In the meantime, saute bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain off grease. Wipe out skillet, leaving a little of the bacon grease. Add the ground beef; cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Season with the cumin, red pepper flakes, and with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drain off fat. Set aside to cool completely.
- In an extra large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot chili sauce until combined and smooth. Add in the cooked pasta, bacon, beef, corn, tomatoes, cheese, and scallions; toss to combine and coat.
- Enjoy right away or refrigerate until ready to serve.